UK Frontiers: Security against Organised Crime and Illegal Immigration

House of Lords written question – answered on 4th May 2004.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the frontiers of the United Kingdom are secure against (a) organised crime; and (b) illegal immigration.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The Government's strategy for tackling specifically organised immigration crime is Reflex, the multi-agency forum established in May 2000 which brings together key law enforcement players under the chair of the National Crime Squad. Reflex has funded several successful initiatives since its inception that have contributed to the reduction of criminally-driven immigration to the UK and other EU states. In particular, two projects (Impact 1 and 2) developed the capacity of border guards in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro to identify forged documents, while a third project in Romania saw the establishment of a team focusing effectively on people trafficking and smuggling.

Reflex also funds two immigration crime teams in the UK, bringing together the subject matter expertise of the Immigration Service and the investigative capabilities of the National Crime Squad to focus on serious immigration-related crime. A third team is to be established shortly.

Reflex activity in 2003–04 resulted in the disruption of 42 criminal groups and has identified £3 million of assets for confiscation and/or seizure.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service manages an expanding network of Immigration Liaison Officers (currently 12) operating in key overseas posts to work closely with law enforcement agencies in the host country with the aim of tackling illegal migratory flows to the UK.

The UK has developed a network of liaison officers in key posts overseas to build our intelligence picture on organised crime originating outside the UK. We have developed sectoral strategies, for example on drugs and organised immigration crime, which work upstream to take operational action and to achieve disruption as close to source as possible. We continue to work with international partners, and with organisations such as Interpol, Europol and Eurojust to act against organised crime which crosses international borders. The establishment of the recently announced Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) will bring a new focus to bear on reducing the harm caused to the UK and its citizens by all organised crime.

UK Immigration Service operates pre and on-entry controls to regulate entry to the UK. Several key measures have recently been introduced in order to enhance border security. They include:

the introduction of juxtaposed controls at specific locations overseas by which means the admissibility of passengers is considered and decided prior to embarkation, resulting in improperly documented or those ineligible for entry not being allowed to proceed to the UK; the expansion of the Airline Liaison Network overseas, which is designed to give advice and assistance to airlines in relation to the documentation and the prevention of the carriage of inadequately documented passengers to the UK; the deployment of freight searching detection equipment in UK ports and overseas to target those who seek to enter the UK clandestinely; and an informed visa strategy designed to establish qualification for entry to the UK prior to arrival.

As a result of the deployment of detection technology, enhanced juxtaposed controls and close co-operation with our EU counterparts, port operators and carriers, over 9,000 people were prevented travelling to the UK from France during 2003.

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